Manhattan (1979)

Brief Intro

Manhattan, directed by Woody Allen and released in 1979, is a romantic comedy-drama that paints a complex portrait of relationships and existential musings in New York City. The film stars Woody Allen himself, Diane Keaton, and Mariel Hemingway, exploring the intertwined lives of its characters amidst the bustling backdrop of Manhattan. Shot in black-and-white and accompanied by a timeless Gershwin score, the movie is celebrated for its wit, poignancy, and visual elegance. 🎬🗽

Literary Devices Used in Manhattan


Movie SceneDevice Example
Opening monologue describing New York CityThe city is depicted as a living, breathing entity.
Isaac’s relationshipsCompared to complex dances, highlighting their dynamics.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Isaac criticizing his ex-wife’s bookLater decides to write his own book, embodying hypocrisy.
Isaac’s romantic ideals vs. actionsOften acts contrary to his own beliefs about love.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Black-and-white cinematographySymbolizes nostalgia and the complexity of life.
Isaac’s fascination with younger womenReflects his fear of aging and desire for vitality.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Intellectual discussions at partiesPokes fun at the pretentiousness of the Manhattan elite.
Isaac’s neurotic behaviorExaggerates to highlight societal obsessions and flaws.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Tracy’s early dialogue about future aspirationsHints at her eventual departure for London.
Isaac’s dismissive attitude towards Mary initiallySuggests their later romantic involvement.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Isaac’s descriptions of New YorkOver-the-top adoration of the city’s charm and chaos.
Characters’ reactions to personal dramasIntensely dramatic to underscore their emotional states.


Movie SceneDevice Example
References to classic literatureReflects characters’ intellectual backgrounds.
Gershwin’s musicEvokes a sense of timeless New York sophistication.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Contrasting New York City landscapesHighlights the city’s diversity and paradoxes.
Isaac’s romantic interests: Tracy vs. MaryShowcases differing dynamics and his internal conflict.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Recurring references to art and cultureIllustrates the characters’ intellectual environment.
Frequent walks through the cityRepresents the journey and search for meaning.


Movie SceneDevice Example
Isaac’s pursuit of happiness vs. his actionsEngages in behaviors that sabotage his own happiness.
Relationships depicted as both fulfilling and destructiveHighlights the complexity of human connections.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Isaac Davis
IronyIsaac’s idealism often clashes with his flawed actions, revealing his complexities.
JuxtapositionHis relationships with Tracy and Mary contrast to show his internal struggles.
SymbolismRepresents youth, innocence, and genuine affection.
ForeshadowingHer aspirations hint at her inevitable departure, marking her growth.
Mary Wilkie
AllusionReferences to art and literature reflect her intellectual depth.
SatireHer self-critical nature pokes fun at her pretentiousness and insecurities.

Character Dynamics

The interactions between Isaac, Tracy, and Mary drive the narrative by highlighting contrasting ideals and personal growth. Isaac’s relationship with Tracy reveals his yearning for purity and simplicity, while his involvement with Mary uncovers his deeper, often hypocritical intellectual desires. These dynamics enrich the storyline, making the audience ponder over the nature of love and self-discovery. ❤️✨

Thematic Analysis

Identity and Self-Discovery

MetaphorThe city as a metaphor for identity—constantly evolving and multifaceted.
HyperboleCharacters’ exaggerated actions underscore their quest for self-understanding.

The Complexity of Relationships

ParadoxRelationships are depicted as both fulfilling and destructive, highlighting their complexity.
JuxtapositionDifferent relationship dynamics emphasize the varying facets of love and conflict.

Nostalgia and Modernity

SymbolismBlack-and-white imagery evokes nostalgia, contrasting with the modern dilemmas faced by the characters.
AllusionReferences to classical works bridge the past and present, reflecting characters’ struggles with change.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
SymbolismBlack-and-white cinematographyEvokes nostalgia and highlights the emotional complexity of scenes.
AllusionGershwin’s orchestral scoreEnhances the timeless atmosphere and underscores the characters’ cultural milieu.
JuxtapositionContrasting cityscapesVisual contrasts between different parts of New York underscore the city’s diversity and paradoxes.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene Selection

Opening Montage

Isaac and Tracy’s Goodbye


To wrap up this guide, let’s test your understanding with an interactive quiz!

Interactive Multiple Choice Quiz:

  1. What literary device is used when Isaac describes New York City as a living, breathing entity?
  2. How is the theme of self-discovery highlighted through the film’s cinematography?
  3. Which character is primarily associated with innocence and genuine affection?
    • A) Mary Wilkie
    • B) Tracy
    • C) Isaac Davis
  4. What device is evident when Isaac criticizes his ex-wife’s book but later decides to write his own?
  5. Which musical element enhances the timeless atmosphere of the film?
    • A) Contemporary pop songs
    • B) Gershwin’s orchestral score
    • C) Silence


  1. B
  2. B
  3. B
  4. B
  5. B